Adds 2011 Nissan Leaf to Green Fleet

We at are pleased to announce that today, a 2011 Nissan Leaf joined the 2011 Chevrolet Volt in our long-term green-car test fleet. Long before we reviewed the Volt and Leaf last fall, we recognized that any car with a power cord demands more than the customary one- to two-week evaluation period, no matter how thorough our test regimen is.

With these cars, it's not just about the driving, but also the purchasing and ownership experience — especially in terms of performance and range in different conditions, such as varying weather. (Here in Chicago we have all sorts of weather — only sometimes in the same week.)

There are innumerable other questions for which consumers demand answers, many of them tied to cost: How difficult is setting up charging provisions at one's home? How much does that cost? Will we be able to charge the cars in public? Will the cost of operation prove to be an advantage over a gas- or diesel-powered car or a hybrid? Can you get a limited-production vehicle serviced anywhere in the country? What will these things be worth a year or two from now as other EVs hit the market?


We've already begun to answer some of these questions at and through our Twitter feed, @CarsComGreen, and we will continue to address the obvious concerns as well as the unexpected, such as what happens when a rodent makes a meal of your Chevy Volt.

We set the wheels in motion close to a year ago to get positioned to be one of the first actual consumers of both cars in the country, especially in a region like ours that's not a launch market for either car and isn't scheduled to be until the end of 2011. For this reason, our Leaf isn't equipped with the optional Winter Package, which is still being developed. In addition to a heated steering wheel and seats, this treatment will add a "battery blanket" — insulation to maintain temperature in the battery pack, which isn't heated or cooled like the Volt's. For this reason, all of our winter observations will have to be taken with this in mind.

Here are the details and costs of our two vehicles:

The Cyber Gray Metallic Volt is loaded, with the Premium Trim Package, a backup camera and front and rear sonar parking assist. With all the options and a destination charge, the $40,280 standard car came to $43,105. After taxes and a one-way registration from our dealership, Martin Chevrolet in Torrance, Calif., it came to $47,392.
Illinois registration and tagging added $241.

Total: $47,633.

Our Blue Ocean Leaf is the higher trim level, the SL, with a list price of $33,720. Options include the quick-charge port, a bumper protection package and floormats. Our out-the-door price at Action Nissan in Nashville, Tenn., was $36,014. That's before paying Illinois taxes of $2,611. Illinois registration and tagging will be the same $241.


The grand total for both comes to a tidy $86,499.

How about that $7,500 federal tax credit? Unfortunately,’s specific corporate designation isn’t eligible. As we've reported, the credit must be taken against income, so you get the full amount only if your tax liability is $7,500 or greater.

The Volt and Leaf represent two of the three disparate approaches to electrification that all foreseeable cars will follow. The Volt is a battery-electric car with gas backup, a hybrid vehicle of unprecedented complexity. The Leaf is a battery-only electric, and though it has many of the connectivity and other high-tech features of the Volt, on a basic level it's a remarkably simple design, down to a battery pack with no active heating or cooling.

The third philosophy is represented by plug-in hybrids like the 2012 Toyota Prius, which isn't available yet. It's nearly identical to the non-plug-in, mechanically, and will be similar in operation, so we probably can't justify buying one. If management is game, though, that Fisker Karma sure looks interesting...



i'm glad you guys purchased both of these vehicles! i can't wait to read about the actual cost of day-to-day ownership and the general ownership experience.

Both of these are vital to our enviroment. =)


Here are some things you might not know about the Nissan Leaf:


I like the Leaf but it's too small. I wish Nissan would offer an all-electric Altima, I think Nissan would sell a lot of those!


Wow a $9,000 difference!? I'll take the Leaf and the money I'd save every day of the week!!


$9,000 is actually a pretty small difference when you consider how much more technologically advanced the volt is...seems like the nissan should be cheaper just based on how simple it a juiced up golf cart.

Troy S.

I'm liking the Leaf more and more as gas prices continue to climb.



A Prius works backward is more advanced than a pure electrical vehicle? hm...I don't know about that.



i know the bulk of the cost for the leaf is the battery pack....which is the same reason that the volt is quite a bit more expensive than the prius.

the leaf approach is infinitely simpler than the volt, both in terms of technology and engineering, and as such i would expect it to be quite a bit cheaper than the volt. a $9k difference, when comparing two vehicles that sticker for over $35k just doesn't seem that significant.

i'm not saying it's a bad car...the battery tech just needs to get cheaper.


Seems like not a very smart place to put the charge port on the Leaf, dead center on the front of the car. In the north you take sand, salt and ice on your car during the winter months which is all stuff I would want to keep our of that compartment. Also does not seem like a smart place because any minor bump/hit on the front is going to break that door. Seems like on the side of the car is the safer/smarter place for it.


I'm thinking of getting a Leaf now. I really needed that info Derek.

Hopefully the editor here will review any new posts -- why if you registered the LEAF in IL were you not charged the $18/yr or $35 / 2 years fee for your registration versus the Volt (the LEAF is a pure electric so should be eligible)? Would also assume that we would see the IL 'EL' siffix plate and not a standard plate on it (the 'EL' would be similar to the other suffix plates in IL for RV's, etc.) -- while not a huge difference from the regular $99/yr it is worth noting --

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App